31 October 2007

New Of Montreal: Feminine Effects

I didn't know Of Montreal had this in them, but I'm surely glad they did.

"Feminine Effects," which premiered on Minnesotan public radio earlier this month, is everything your typical Of Montreal song isn't: subdued, elegiac, purely piano-based and absolutely devastating. There are no zany synths or references to obscure mythologies. "Feminine Effects" is a ballad, and a damn good one. Kevin Barnes laments his past nïaveté and subsequent jadedness to heartbreaking effect.

Feminine Effects - Of Montreal
Bobby baby, you make me blurry, so blurry inside...

C'mon kids, it's seethe-along time!

I had a seriously crappy day and this calls for the sort of bitter, hateful vitriol that only the gifted few can deliver:

I hope that our few remaining friends
Give up on trying to save us
I hope we come up with a failsafe plot
To piss off the dumb few that forgave us
I hope the fences we mended
Fall down beneath their own weight
And I hope we hang on past the last exit
I hope it's already too late
And I hope the junkyard a few blocks from here
Someday burns down
And I hope the rising black smoke carries me far away
And I never come back to this town
Again in my life
I hope I lie
And tell everyone you were a good wife
And I hope you die
I hope we both die

I hope I cut myself shaving tomorrow
I hope it bleeds all day long
Our friends say it's darkest before the sun rises
We're pretty sure they're all wrong
I hope it stays dark forever
I hope the worst isn't over
And I hope you blink before I do
Yeah I hope I never get sober
And I hope when you think of me years down the line
You can't find one good thing to say
And I'd hope that if I found the strength to walk out
You'd stay the hell out of my way
I am drowning
There is no sign of land
You are coming down with me
Hand in unlovable hand
And I hope you die
I hope we both die

the Mountain Goats - No Children (from Tallahassee)

30 October 2007

Jens Lekman @ Webster Hall, NYC, 10/27/07

"I am Jens Lekman. You Are New York. Nice to meet you."

Jens Lekman solidified himself as the most sincere human being in music today. Endearing stage banter. Check. Adorable, monochromatically dressed female backing band (plus Viktor Sjoberg). Check. Introducing himself to adoring audience members following the show until an evil security guard evilly intervened and kicked us all out. Double check.

Read Megan's album review of Night Falls Over Kortedala. I'm calling it now: Album. Of. The. Year. Seriously. Like if Stephin Merritt and Belle & Sebastian and Morrissey were actually sincere. And Swedish. But more importantly sincere.

A Postcard to Nina - Jens Lekman
Don't let anyone stand in your way...

29 October 2007

"Somewhere there is something breaking"

Sometimes a guitar and a voice is all you need to make an pretty damn good album. And Meredith Bragg knows this, as he deftly demonstrates how sparse instrumentation can go a long, long way on his upcoming release Silver Sonya (out December 11 on The Kora Records).

But if you're under the impression that the album is just standard acoustic singer-songwriter fair, you're wrong. Many of the songs feature eerie sonic manipulation -they are looped and filtered, sliced and diced. Bragg's vocals, however are even more effective than their instrumental underpinnings. His voice lies somewhere between a more world-weary Elliott Smith and a less nasally Ben Gibbard. "Ballad of an Opportunist" is probably just as good as anything recorded by those two aforementioned artists, displaying a fragile vulnerability and beaming warmth. It's really, really good.

Check out the album teaser as well:
Ballad of An Opportunist - Meredith Bragg (mp3 expired)

26 October 2007

Not good for your HEALTH

I know, I know CMJ has been over for nearly a week, but it's taken me a while to process the whirlwind marathon of shows and the hype (and hangovers) that accompany them. So here it is -my woefully late post in which I will discuss a band that, as a music blogger, I am legally obligated to post about. That band is HEALTH. (Ah, see you thought I was going to say Black Kids, but I'm saving them for my next post.)
Incidentally, I caught both HEALTH and Black Kids on the same afternoon, in the cramped confines of the stripper pole laden R Bar. I mention the context because sometimes the circumstances in which you see/hear a band have a terrible influence on whether or not you enjoy them. Maybe that's the reason I didn't, for lack of a better word "get" HEALTH.

HEALTH is a band better suited for listening at 2:30 at night, not 2:30 in the afternoon. They throb and pound and make weird noises -weird LOUD noises. I don't think their songs have words, just odd, discordant moans. They're disturbing, but not in a compeling Animal Collective-way, just in a disturbing way. How can people listen to this kind of music in daylight? -that was essentially my first thought upon their opening squawk- or while sober? I spent most of their set at the bar chugging free vodka with Red Bulls (and I despise Red Bull, but such was the madness that I was driven to drink such an icky beverage. And hey, it was free).

It was at this time I struck up a conversation with a guy who was equally confused and disengaged. And interestingly enough it turns out he makes some rather pretty music of his own. There is nothing out of the ordinary about Dave Godowsky's music. It's pretty standard singer-songwriter fair -acoustic guitar, some harmonica flourishes, maybe an occasional splash of glockenspiel. But upon downloading a few tracks (a bunch of songs are available for free on his website) I found myself really liking it. Maybe you will too?

Compare and contrast:
Tabloid Scores - HEALTH
Crimewave - HEALTH
Just For You - Dave Godowsky
Alcohol - Dave Godowsky

25 October 2007

Saul and Trent, sitting in a tree, M-I-X-X-I-N-G

Saul Williams knows a good thing when he hears it. Radiohead's recent economic adventure with the name-your-own-price release of "In Rainbows" was successful enough that other artists are already following suit.

As of November 1st, "The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust," a titular nod to Bowie, offers two options for purchase: for free, or a flat $5. Either way, it's DRM-free and will include a PDF with artwork and lyrics. The album is produced by Trent Reznor, so I'm expecting a good dose of both heavy words and hard beats. We'll let you know: VK supports the artists we love by voting with our cash, and we encourage you to do the same.

Quoth the Raven:
"The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! is the lovechild of Trent and me. The Niggytardust concept sets me free to do more on stage with costume, etc. than one might expect from a regular Saul Williams show. It allows me to put my theatre training to use. I've also thought long and hard about all the discussion surrounding racial epithets etc. and chose this title as a means of furthering the dialogue while also showing how creativity will outlive and outshine hatred of any kind."

The Rez sez:
"Working on this project was a real pleasure. Saul was interested in breaking boundaries, crossing genres and defying expectations and we learned a great deal from one another in the process. After my own recent dealings with record labels we decided to release it directly to the fans. There are obvious similarities in how Radiohead just released their new record and the way we've chosen to. After thinking about this way too much, I feel we've improved upon their idea in a few profound ways that benefit the consumer."

Here's the tracklisting:
1. Black History Month
2. Convict Colony
3. Tr(n)igger
4. Sunday Bloody Sunday
5. Break
6. NiggyTardust
7. DNA
8. WTF!
9. Scared Money
10. Raw
11. Skin of a Drum
12. No One Ever Does
13. Banged and Blown Through
14. Raised to be Lowered
15. The Ritual

To whet your appetite:
Saul Williams - Talk to Strangers.mp3 from his self-titled album
Nine Inch Nails - The Greater Good.mp3 from Year Zero

24 October 2007

Scary Sufjan!

I less than three the Soof like nobody's business, so I require neither prompting nor excuse to post anything and everything about him.

Hot off the, er, YouTube presses, courtesy of Pfork (who just possibly might cream themselves over him even more than I do...but doubtful), here's a video preview of Part 6 of his upcoming orchestral piece, the BQE, during a rehersal. That's Sufjan over on piano.
Recent comments from reviews and an interview have used terms like "multi-car pileup" and "Tim Burton? More like Davd Lynch." But hey, decide for yourself:

And finally, further proof that maybe I should be clocking in those extra hours of overtime at work, instead of sending 4 hours carving up my monster, 72-lb. pumpkin in the likeness of... well, you know.

Morrissey @ Hammerstein Ballroon, NYC 10/23/07

Having never seen Morrissey live and being all too aware of the notorious reputation his adulating fans have, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect last night. Out of the dozen or so people I talked to while waiting on line for nearly four hours, I was the only one who had never seen Moz in all his glory. A total virgin to the Morrissey concert-going experience, I received warnings from men with pompadours about how my unprotected, flip-flopped feet might get crushed in the crowd and was cautioned to stay clear of the shirt-throwing area of the floor. Heeding their advice, I ventured into the Hammerstein Ballroom and prepared to see the man who's probably saved more people than Jesus. The pilgrimage was definitely worth it.
The vast setlist spanned his lovely career. Smiths' classics such as "The Boy with a Thorn in His Side" and "Death of a Disco Dancer" sounded great, as did the yet to be released "That's How People Grow Up". But the absolute highlight had to be the stage divers themselves -who actually restrained themselves until the encore number, the rousing "Last of the Gang to Die". And that's when all hell broke loose. For those unfamiliar with the venue, there is about a distance of about two feet between the audience and the stage, with a big metal barrier secured in place to maintain that distance. Well needless to say nothing can hold Morrissey fans back. More than a couple people hoisted themselves up and lunged, literally flinging their bodies towards the stage -and more than a few actually succeeded, much to the chagrin of multiple security guards.

Oh and that was before the the shirt came off. Once the sweaty rag of fabric flew, it landed meer inches away from me. I actually touched it. Let me reiterate that -I actually touched the shirt of a man who verbalized my (and several generation's) inadequacies better than any songwriter of the last twenty year!- and then I got stuck in an eight person game of tug-o-war over said shirt. Ultimately we let the dude who rightfully caught it, keep it. Needless to say, it was an exhilarating moment.

And now one of my favorite cover songs:
Moon River - Morrissey

22 October 2007

Justice @ Terminal 5, NYC 10/20/07 CMJ

If you had told me a week ago that I would forsake an opportunity to see Spoon and that I would go see a French electronica duo instead, well I would have thought you out of your mind. But such is the schizophrenic nature of the CMJ music marathon -you never know what you are going to see -or going to want to see- next. By Saturday evening, the fifth and final day of the marathon I had pretty much had my fair share of guys with guitars and thanks in part to the pleading of a friend who didn't want to go see Justice alone, I decided to venture into uncharted territory -that of (gasp) dance music of the decidely non-Mountain Goat variety.

I opted to stay on the second floor balcony, overlooking the crowd, which looked liked a sea of glowsticks from above. Prior to the concert, I was only familiar with their ubiquitous summer anthem D.A.N.C.E. Oh and dance we did, as two leather-clad, chain smoking French men twidled knobs and laptops to create some damn intense, pulsating music. The walls of speakers blared. A massive electric cross glowed and man, did we dance. Justice was served

D.A.N.C.E. - Justice
Phantom Pt. II - Justice

21 October 2007

Islands @ R Bar, NYC 10/19/07 CMJ

"Rocking" and "bass clarinet" normally do not belong in the same sentence together. Islands, however obliterated that rule. Playing for over an hour in the confines of New York's teeny-tiny R-Bar, hundreds of people scrunched together to catch a glimpse of the eclectic Canadian pop collective.It was all a part of Brooklyn Vegan's CMJ day party (one of three actual, plus an official CMJ showcase), which ran nearly seven and nine bands long, but more on those bands later. Lead Islander Nick Diamond pranced around the stage (or rather step in the back of the bar) and into the crowd, snatching hats and umbrellas from unexpected audience members. Meanwhile the violinists swung from poles (there were an inordinate amount of stripper-like poles for a non-strip club, ha), while simultaneously playing there instruments no less, making them by far the most acrobatically proficient musicians you're bound to ever see.

Word on the street (or rather from the band) has it that a new album will be out sometime in the Spring. They literally just finished mixing it three days ago. The tracks all sounded superb, bounding with energy, the as of yet titled album is looking to be one of the most anticipated releases of 2008.

Rough Gem - Islands
Don't Call Me Whitney, Bobby - Islands

18 October 2007

The Felice Brothers @ Avalon, NYC - CMJ 10/17/07

The Felice Brothers set at CMJ's Unsigned Artists Showcase proved to be one of the highlights of the night. Of course that came as no surprise, having seen them play many times for events at my college lit-mag. Drummer (and published novelist) Simone Felice was lively and animated, praising the crowd with "Amens". They were playing in a converted church-turned-indie-rock-venue after all. And then the guitar and accordion wailed in beautiful gothic harmony.

I briefly spoke to Simone prior to the show. I noticed him lying on a small patch of grass outside the venue, limbs sprawled out. This is a man who uses the term "psychedelic" unironically. Needless to say he is quite a character on and off the stage.

Catch the Felice Brothers opening for Bright Eyes this Fall. Hmm, maybe I should have warned them about the audiences they might have to endure?

Whiskey in My Whiskey - The Felice Brothers
Radio Song - The Felice Brothers

17 October 2007

Mates of State @ CMJ - Avalon, NYC

I just got back from Mates of State's show at CMJ. They are more adorable than kittens and rainbows. Additionally Kori Gardner is very, very pregnant, although she reassured the audience that she wouldn't give birth on stage. I guess the Mates have mated.

Look for more CMJ posts throughout the week.

You Don't Know What I'm Going Through...

I still remember the first Jens Lekman song I ever heard. "Black Cab," track 13 on a very awesome mix made for me by fellow VKer Jess (who once managed to get a marriage proposal passed on to Mr. Lekman). If I didn't already owe her innumerable thanks for all the other awesome music she has hooked me up with, I would owe her innumerable thanks for that.

So what do I think of Jens Lekmans sophomore album, Night Falls Over Kortedala? I wish I could tell you, I really do. But I have this problem. See, when I first got the album, I played it through. I know that it was good. I remember it as being good. Like a fading dream, I remember it was very good. But I can't listen to it again. Because every time I go to I skip straight to track three, "Opposite of Hallelujah." And when it ends I start it again. Sometimes, if I'm distracted, I'll hear the start of "Postcards to Nina" before I click back. The start of "Postcards to Nina" is very cool, it has a nostalgic 70's kinda feel to it. (So does "Opposite of Hallelujah," for that matter). Actually, if my dimming memory serves the whole album toes the nostalgia line, although the lyrics are rooted firmly in the today.

I couldn't say for sure though, because like I said, this has become something of a one song album for me. But what a song! Handclaps! Handclaps, and a glockenspiel! Handclaps, glockenspiel and self-depreciating wit!

Black Cab (from '05's "Oh You're So Silent Jens.")
Oh no, God damn, I missed the last tram!

Opposite Of Hallelujah
I took my sister down to the ocean...


15 October 2007

Hockey Night in Vancouver, Canada

Yes yes, I realize technically Hockey Night was last night. How could I have missed it? I was staying in a hotel in Vancouver B.C. directly across the street from GM Place. Canucks beat Edmonton 4-1; The bars were flooded in joyful revelry immediately after.

I've been to Vancouver B.C. many times, and every time I go there my love for it grows. Though I've long ago deleted my MP3 of the theme music to Hockey Night (the question you should not be asking is why I had it in the first place), I offer two songs in honor of one of my favoite cities in the western hemisphere:

Though this gorgeous piece more refers to the Great Lakes of the central region, believe you me there's fabulous lakes everywhere (with mosquitoes to go with!)

Innocence Mission - Lakes of Canada.mp3

...and of course, you have to hear The Soof's simply lovely solo acoustic cover of it, Live from his Judson College show, Nov. 19, 2003:

Sufjan Stevens - Lakes of Canada.mp3

In 1995, Jeff Buckley debuted an Instrumental song tenatively titled Vancouver at his show at the Metro in Chicago, Illinois. It was later recorded in a studio version which ended up on "(Sketches for) My Sweetheart the Drunk." His live performace, however, included not only the finalized words but a firery, rocking passion not captured in their earlier or studio versions:

Jeff Buckley - Vancouver.mp3 (Live at Arlene's Grocery, Feb. 9, 1997)

14 October 2007

But I'm Not Bitter That Jess Saw Them Live. Honest.

So there's this thing I do. I guess, well, I guess you'd call it a bad habit. A bad habit that I can't afford, but that I indulge in way too often.

I see CDs with cool covers and I buy them. Because they have cool covers. Have I heard of them before? Does the tracklisting look cool? Is it cheap? These things don't matter! I will put CDs that I have been wanting for ages back on the shelf and gleefully skip to the counter clutching the nicely artworked album close, because the cover looks cool.

More often than not the music is OK in a mediocre kind of way. Sometimes it's downright awful. And sometimes, just sometimes, the music is amazing. It doesn't happen often, but when it does... The feeling makes all the rubbish (like that Panic! At The Disco album I bought just before the awful awful (just awful) "I chime in with haven't you people ever heard of..." song hit the radio because I was tickled by the people having mis-matched legs and torsos) that I buy seem worth it.

So let's rewind, shall we, to a few years ago. 2005, to be more exact. I was wandering around 78s, thinking maybe I would get the latest White Stripes album, when I paused by the 'Local Music!' display. An album caught my eye. The cover had this really cute hand drawn feel to it, there were all these green palm tree-y looking plants, and a big red heart and a dude that was maybe sticking a cane into a leaky hole, or maybe conducting an invisable orchestra with a hose, and there was a random porthole and a stained glass window. My brain declared it very cool, and my hands and feet worked together to get it to the checkout.

It wasn't until after I paid for it that I even looked at the album name and artist. "In Case We Die," by Architecture in Helsinki. ('Huh,' I thought, 'that's an odd name. Maybe it was put in the local music section by accident then?')

I listened to it. And I hated it. I really, really did. I just wasn't ready for the kind of music AiH had to offer me! But time passed, and I gave the album another try, and I realised what a fool I had been. How could I not have appreciated the way the creepy opening of the first song, Nevereverdid, melds beautifully into a happy boppy little tune? How could I have thought the harmonising vocals childish and annoying? I look back at old Megan, and I shake my head at her!

As an album, to me, 'In Case We Die' has a certain innocence to it. It has sinister moments, to be sure, but, ok, I'm going to get a little weird here but bear with me, it's like some of the moments are dark and forbidding, but the other moments are unaware of it. Like a little kid happily getting into a car with a stranger. 'Oh hey, you have candy! Awesome! I love candy! Do you love candy? Once, I had some candy, but my brother took it from me, so I hid his guinea pig, and then my mum got mad, and then...' So I guess what I'm trying to say it, 'In Case We Die' is like a hyperactive little kid, blissfully unaware of all the danger the future holds.

And so what of this years follow up album, "Places Like This?" (Which also has a very kick ass cover. But in pure Megan fashion I did not buy it for ages because all these albums with cool covers that I knew nothing about needed to be bought first...) From the opening notes it is very clear that that candy-loving ditz of a kid has grown up. The contrast between dark and light is not as well defined on this album. Instead, the two are combined. The melodies are still there, but no longer do they seem as crazy and little-kid-spinning-in-circles-until-they-vomit-from-the-dizziness-ish. They seem more cohesive, more planned. The whole album just has a much more mature sound. The falsetto's are almost completely gone, the lyrics seem to actually make sense. You pull up to this album and offer it some candy, it would probably just flip you off and keep cartwheeling down the street.

The cover of 'In Case We Die' is a building filled with random and magical things, surrounded by a wild jungle. On the cover of 'Places Like This,' the jungle has been suppressed, a crazy but at the same time orderly city constructed on top of it. What does this mean? I don't know, I just buy 'em cause they look cool. (But there's no physically impossible portholes to be found on 'Places Like This.' I'm just saying...)

from "In Case We Die:"
I was walking on the moon with your stalker
The Cemetery.mp3
There's a shadow on the wall and it's nine feet tall

from "Places Like This:"
Like It Or Not.mp3 (Oh man, I love this song. Ask me what my favourite AiH song is, this is my answer.)
Let me tell you something about christmas time when it's hot (i love that line. there needs to be more songs about christmas in the summertime).
the wrath of millions of thieves lies disguised


(I've not actually heard their debut album, in case you were wondering why I ignored it. The album cover is kind of boring, if I recall correctly...)

Morning Recordings - The Welcome Kinetic

Sounding something like an eerier Beach House, or a more lush version of The Books, Morning Recordings craft intricate dreamscapes of sound. The Chicago collective's latest album The Welcome Kinetic is a haunting affair riddled with unusual instrumentation. There are optigans, vibraphones, Japanese table harps, horns and cellos strewn among sampled field recordings and Pramod Tummala's breathy, melancholic vocals. Edith Frost also lends her voice to three tracks as well.

The video for "Sugar Waltz" is the visual equivalent of most of the album--like a hypnotic carnival ride--twisted and delightful and just a tad disorienting (but in the best possible way).

Summer Tapes - Morning Recordings Off 2005s Music For Places
Sugar Waltz - Morning Recordings Off 2007s The Welcome Kinetic

Check out my 2005 interview with the band!

If Only I Had A Delorean

2007 has been a pretty good year for music. Scratch that, it's been an amazing year for music! It has seemed that our favourite bands could do no wrong, with fantastic album after fantastic album falling into our laps. And the year is not even over! Who knows what else it could bring? Well, I for one do not care what the rest of this year will have. I want to be over. I want it to be early '08. Because in early '08?

The new Mountain Goats album.

Oh Yeah.

Reliable sources say it will be called 'Heretic Pride,' and will be about monsters. (Lonely monsters, maybe). And, the Bright Mountain Choir, not seen since the Zopilote Machine days, will make an appearance! Oh man, if you don't get how awesome that is, you'll just have to take my word for it. It's awesome.

We have some confirmed song names:

New Zion
How to Embrace a Swamp Creature
Marduk T-Shirt Men's Room Incident
Craters In The Moon

I've been lucky enough to actually hear 'Craters In The Moon,' (many thanks must go to Christopher for that one, the coolest man in all of sunny California) and oh, it is very good. Very good indeed. Creepy and low with the coolest bass and then this amazing and sudden burst of energy. (No one, and I mean no one, does sudden bursts of energy like John Darnielle).

"In the declining years of a long war..."

John Darnielle has, however, made it clear that he would prefer bootleg recordings of songs from upcoming releases not be shared, and so out of respect for him I won't upload it here. As I peace offering I shall share "Cut Off Their Thumbs #1," an older unreleased tMG track that this new song reminds me off in some ways:

Cut Off Their Thumbs #1
"I'm gonna kill everyone in this room...."

12 October 2007

Architecture in Helsinki @ The Blender Theater at Gramercy, NYC 10/11/07

I must admit, I wasn't all that familiar with Architecture in Helsinki before seeing them live last night, but the Aussie octet quickly won me over with their happy-go-lucky electro-twee pop. The band have definitely joined the ranks of I'm From Barcelona not only in regards of being geographically confused, but in terms of making energetic, over-stuffed pop songs. AiH had the crowd buzzing all night. We did the whirlwind, oh and our hearts, they raced!

The Cemetery - Architecture in Helsinki Off 2005s In Case We Die
Heart It Races - Architecture in Helsinki Off 2007s Places Like This

11 October 2007

Too Much Monkey Business

"Why monkeys?" you might ask; "Why not?" I will respond. While I couldn't find too many songs about poop-flinging, banana-eating, ebola-having antics in general, any monkey namedropping will always do the trick. Enjoy the follow collection of songs dedicated to our primate kin.

Dave Matthews Band - Proudest Monkey.mp3
Chuck Berry - Too Much Monkey Business.mp3
Pixies - Monkey Gone to Heaven.mp3
Sufjan Stevens - Year of the Monkey.mp3
Beastie Boys - Brass Monkey.mp3
Cracker - Guarded By Monkeys.mp3
Daniel Johnston - Big Business Monkey.mp3
The Beatles - Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey.mp3

EDIT- Here's one more super-obvious choice:
The Monkey Song - The Mountain Goats

10 October 2007

Riding on The Avalanche

Sheesh, the ONE day I don't peek at All Good Naysayers, after weeks of no news, there's an avalanche of material:
1) Suf's going to speak at a literary event (PENultimate),
2) He appears on a Bob Dylan collection with a new cover of "Ring Them Bells,"
3) He's profiled in the online edition of Smithsonian magazine,
4) Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity chose "All the Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands" as their "theme song" this month.

Crazy! Go check out All Good Naysayers for all the details.

On top of it, Looks like we won't be seeing a new album for quite some time. According to the Smithsonian article:

"Right now I’m just taking the year to write and to work on a lot of other projects, and to maybe go back to fiction writing."

So it's quite possible that we might see a book or collection of short stories before "Come to Nebraska (There's Nothing To Do)" comes out. Which, for those of us who have read pretty much everything we can get our hands on, is a joysend: seriously, much as I love his music, he's a much, much better writer than musician. The comparisons to O'Connor are just.

Oh, and don't forget that The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2007, with an introduction by Sufjan, is out today!

Sufjan Stevens - All the Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands.mp3

09 October 2007

Blast me into the Estradasphere

Fellow J-skool alum, blogger, and Scrabble buddy Jeremy introduced me to Estradasphere, a band from Santa Cruz who are relocating to Seattle. We listened to their 2006 album, Palace of Mirrors, during a kickass game last night.* The disorienting nature of the music, however, posed an additional challenge.

As he threw the all-instrumental album into the CD player, he said, "Just try and categorize this."
After two songs I thought I had my answer:
"It's like Slayer, but take away one member, and they grew up in Algeria."
"Yeah... but you've only heard two songs. You need to listen to the whole thing to get the whole effect."

So, throughout the evening, I'd pause between racks full of I's and C's to look up from my tiles with a mixed expression of amazement and disgust, saying:
"It's like, if they had Nintendo in the 60's... this would be the Megaman theme," or,
"It's like a Scandinavian acoustic thrash-core cover of Tom and Jerry," or,
"Spaghetti-Western Surf Rock," or even,
"Romanian speedmetal folk."

Try and categorize Estradasphere for yourself!

Estradasphere - A Corporate Merger.mp3
Estradasphere - The Terrible Beautypower of Meow.mp3
Estradasphere - The Return.mp3

*Sorry, but I have to brag. I totally mauled him: 344 to 175.

08 October 2007


Still clinging to the last vestiges of summer? Allow Noah and the Whale to help. Their song "5 Years Time" is pure sonic sunshine -from the whistle intro to the sing-along chorus. The retro, home movie-styled video is nice touch as well. But be forewarned the snappy tune will linger in your brain well into the winter season.

All together now "FUN, FUN, FUN...LOVE, LOVE, LOVE"

Here's the mp3
5 Years Time - Noah and the Whale (Radio 1 session)

07 October 2007

Sick Mix

I've been feeling a bit under the weather lately -icky sore throat, drippy nose, general wooziness- all the feelings that signal the start of fall. I've spent the last two days bundled under the covers, despite the unseasonably warm weather and drinking copious amounts of earl grey. Here's a quiet assortment of tunes that have kept me company amongst the cough drops and the tissues. I'm feeling too weak to write descriptions, but perhaps you can leave your thoughts in the comments.

Take Me To The Riots - Stars
Two Stones In My Pocket - Neil Halstead
Restless - Langhorne Slim
Tulsa Imperative - DiskothiQ
Sci-Fi Kid - Blitzen Trapper

06 October 2007

Fall has fallen

There are two predominating visions of fall: the sunny, optimistic kind that loves the turning leavs and crisp nights, and the dour, pessemistic kind that mourns the shorter days and inclimate weather.

For the optimists, we have the quintessential Van Morrison classic, Moondance. It protrays autumn as a lush time of colder nights under twinkling stars, an array of colors, and the romance of spiced cider in anticipation of the Holidays:

A fantabulous night to make romance
'neath the cover of october skies
And all the leaves on the trees are falling
To the sound of the breezes that blow

Van Marrison - Moondance.mp3

For the pessimists who already mourn the less of the summer sun and daylight past 6pm, leaves fall, leaving barren trees behind, the Morning fog isn't romantic, it's chilling and spooky. Instead of romance blossoming, it dies:

Fall is here, the leaves are changing
crisp is the sky and the wind blows through my hair
and like the leaves, which are now falling
love has faded, and is now dead

Tiffany Anders - I See How Much has Changed.mp3 (with J. Mascis)

04 October 2007

"I see myself on my death bed saying I wish I would have loved less..."

Here's an instance where a song outshines its video, but oh what a song. "Sipping on Sweet Nectar" is pure swedish pop perfection. Us American fans have less than a week to wait for the release of Night Falls Over Kortedala. Jens Lekman's new album is probably his most cohesive and consistent yet - just song after song of unrequited longing and mentally re-lived memories soundtracked by blaring brass, swirling strings and retro samples. If you haven't already circled October 9th with a big heart on your calendars, tsk, tsk.

03 October 2007

It's funny 'cause it's true.

Check out this classic XKCD strip

02 October 2007

The Lucksmiths @ The Knitting Factory, NYC 9/28/07

Last Friday at New York's cozy Knitting Factory, Australian indie-pop outfit The Lucksmiths put on one of the most charming shows I've seen in ages. If you're unfamiliar with the trio (who actually performed live as a four-piece), you should really rectify that and get to know some of the most witty and heartfelt acoustic/semi-orchestral pop songs of the 00s. Additionally lead singer Tali White happens to be the drummer. His agility and sense of rhythm were mighty impressive.

My biggest gripe of the night had nothing to do with the music, or even the crowd - just two specific audience members- two specifically tall audience members with excessively massive hipster-fros. Now I'm sure they're very nice people, it's just that when you and your friends barely crack the five foot mark, it's easy to get fed up with those who arrive at the venue just minutes before you do, but happen to be less, um, vertically challenged.

Be sure to check out the recently released Spring A Leak, a two disc collection of b-sides, covers and rarities.

A Hiccup in Your Happiness - The Lucksmiths (Off 2005s Warmer Corners)

01 October 2007

Monday Night Football

Let me say this up front: I am not a football fan. Peter Peter Hughes (whom you might know as the second half the Mountain Goats), however, is. So much so that he made an album about it, a collection of songs for every team of the American Football Conference.

Under his own release name of DiskothiQ, Peter's put out 5 funny, bitter, insightful or just lovely albums between 1994 and 1999 (one available as free-download only). But seeing how it's now autumn, it's the season for the sport. What better way to celebrate than to highlight the two teams playing tonight?

DiskothiQ - Bengals.mp3
DiskothiQ - Patriots.mp3

Oh, but what if you're a fan of a team on the National Football Conference? Not to fear, there's an album for you too!